Bones used in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey to go on show at cinema

By Ben Miller | 28 November 2014

Bones from Stanley Kubrick's 1968 classic on show as museum reveals truth behind "celebrity" elephant

A black and white photo of a series of huge elephant skeletons inside a zoology museum
The Indian and African elephants inside the old Museum of Zoology in Cambridge© Cambridge University Museum of Zoology
Before viewers watch a screening of Stanley Kubrick’s foreboding film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, on Monday, Cambridge’s Museum of Zoology will present some of the ancient remains portrayed on the big screen.

Curators initially took the bones to a festival screening of the film at the town’s Arts Picturehouse last week, delighting Kubrick’s daughter, Katharina, who held a question-and-answer session as part of the event.

“We will be displaying a selection of the bones used in the opening scenes of the film,” says Tracy Biram, of the museum, which has only learned of its specimens’ part in the blockbuster 46 years after audiences first watched it.

“There had been a rumour flying around for years about our Asian elephant’s celebrity status. We recently had this confirmed after unearthing the original Record of Loan during our current redevelopment.

“This shows a detailed list of bones from our elephant skeleton, including the skull, were lent to Hawk Films Ltd – Kubrick’s production company – at MGM Studios on July the 10th 1967.”

Part of the elephant remains unaccounted for.

“Notes on the condition of the specimens on receipt back in Cambridge state that MGM lost the metal rib cage frame, on which part of the skeleton was mounted,” explains Biram.

“Its whereabouts remain a mystery.”

The museum is currently closed for a major refurbishment which is expected to be completed in 2016.

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